A Touch of Class


  • A Touch of Class activity sheet for each student
  • A blackboard or white board or big piece of paper and a marker
  • Pencils or pens
  • Computers with Internet access
A Touch of Class

Launch Tool

Scientists classify organisms in many different ways. For instance, animals can be classified by where they live, by what they eat, and by their body structure. In this activity, students will come up with their own classification schemes, and then use an online interactive to choose plants and animals that fit into different categories.


Take a walk outside and you could probably note hundreds of organisms—grass, insects, trees, humans. An organism is any living thing. These living things can be sorted into groups in many ways using various features to decide which things belong to which group. For example, an organism could be classified as either a plant or an animal. Most organisms can likely be classified in a variety of ways. A reptile, for instance, is an animal and a cold-blooded vertebrate. There are many ways to classify organisms and the different schemes vary with purpose.

Activity Instructions


On the blackboard write “animal” and “plant.” Ask your group: “How many organisms can you think of or even see right now? Organisms are living things.” 

List what they say under the two classifications on the board. Now ask them: “Can you find other classifications for the organisms you’ve listed?” (For instance, maybe there is dog, cat, and fish written on the board that could be grouped as “pets.” Or, if there is more than one type of tree, there could be a group “trees.”)

Now, students can do the A Touch of Class interactive on their own.


Give each student an A Touch of Class activity sheet and pencil and point them toward the student web page. The activity sheet will provide kids with the URL to access the interactive.

In this activity, students will classify plants and animals into groups based on certain characteristics (e.g., plants, animals, things that lay eggs, things that live underwater). By doing this, they will visualize and learn how the same plant or animal can be classified into more than one group depending on the features of a specific group.

If you have time, you may want to revisit the list on the blackboard and see if students can add to it and talk about different groups in which to classify things on their list. You could ask: “What other categories could you come up with for the organisms on the board?”

Related Activities

A Touch of Class

Launch Activity

How well do you know what group your favorite animal belongs to? How about plants? There are many different types of animals and plants in the world. Many animals and plants are quite similar to each other. Others are quite different. Animals and plants can be grouped (classified) based on their similarities. Do this activity to see how well you can classify animals or plants.

Student Activity Sheet

Download Student Activity Sheet

Online Resources

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Afterschool Resource Details

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